A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Sanitation District No.1 to consider implementation of base rate for customers; public hearing this week

By David Holthaus
NKyTribune reporter

The more than 100,000 customers of Sanitation District No. 1 (SD1) may see a significant change in their bills soon.


The utility’s management wants to change how service is billed by including a base rate on the monthly statements. A base rate is essentially a minimum charge. That minimum charge would start at $21 a month in 2020 and rise to $34 in 2023.

District officials will hold a public hearing on the proposed rate restructuring at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, May 9 at the district’s headquarters, 1045 Eaton Drive in Fort Wright.

Some customers would see their bills increase under the proposal; others would see a decline, according to district officials’ calculations.

The change is meant to align customer bills more closely with the actual cost of providing service, said Executive Director Adam Chaney. 

“We have a structure right now that isn’t fair, or could be made more fair,” he said.

Chaney said most of the district’s expenses are fixed costs, such as equipment that needs to be in operation 24 hours a day. Adding to those fixed costs is the millions spent so far on new infrastructure to comply with an agreement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to eliminate sewer overflows. 

Most expenses are not related to how much water is actually used by customers, he said, although that metric is what customers’ bills are based on.

Most other water utilities in the region, including Cincinnati, already include a base rate in their billing.

Complicating the Northern Kentucky utility’s finances has been a steady decline in water consumption. Consumption has declined, on average, more than 1 percent for each of the last five years, the utility said. That’s largely due to wider use of high-efficiency toilets, dishwashers and washing machines, Chaney said.

Because of the decline in consumption, and with billing based on consumption, rate increases have been necessary to maintain a consistent level of revenue.

Because of the billing structure, customers who use a high volume of water have been subsidizing those who use low volumes, Chaney said.

In general, under the base rate proposal, high volume users will see their bills decrease, while low-volume users will see theirs increase, Chaney said.

In year one of the base rate plan, 54,407 accounts would see an increase in their bills, while 42,270 would see a decrease, district officials have calculated.

Cheney said no customer would see an increase of more than $5 per month in any of the first four years of the proposed plan.

The base rate would include the charge for 200 cubic feet of water. Consumption of more than 200 hundred cubic feet (about 1,500 gallons) would continue to be charged on a variable rate.

The board of Sanitation District 1 unanimously approved the plan in April.

The fiscal courts of Boone, Campbell and Kenton counties will also vote on it, with the district needing two of the three to vote yes in order to move forward with implementation.

Contact the Northern Kentucky Tribune at news@nkytrib.com

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  1. Johnson says:

    We are retired and all this is BS it’s just not fair to those of us who are watching what we have to spend just saying NO

  2. Christina says:

    Hardly anyone uses less than 200cf per month. The average person uses 2,400 gallons per month on the low side which is over 300cf. Average family uses 600cf. This is just an excuse to charge double for the first 200cf. EVERYONES bill will increase dramatically unless you are using over 1,500cf a month which is physically impossible on a 3/4″ meter. Don’t be fooled!

  3. Terri says:

    The elderly and disabled already have a hard enough time with finances. Now, we’re being forced to pay more money for basically nothing! I guess soon I’ll need to start choosing between medicine I need or water I need.

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